Friday, October 29, 2010

"The God Hater" Book Review


It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!



Today's Wild Card author is:






and the book:




The God Hater


Howard Books; Original edition (September 28, 2010)


***Special thanks to Libby Reed, Publicity Assistant, HOWARD BOOKS, a division of Simon & Schuster for sending me a review copy.***


MY REVIEW:

Okay, here is a book about someone who hates God and all religion so much that he despises anything to do with it - he has only one friend (a fellow professor) and her little boy and his brother who he sees about once a year. Outside of that everyone avoids him like the plague, not a pleasant person to be around to say the least. Then suddenly, everyone is after him, literally. Nicholas is asked to help his brother on a project he has made, creating a CGI world with characters that are supposed to act and react like we do in real life. Basically it is an alternative universe but there is a problem. The characters keep killing each other off, or they let nature do it for them... that's where Nicholas comes in. His job? What do they introduce into the world that will give the characters a reason to survive? Eerie similarities to the Gospel start creeping up and everything Nicholas has believed comes into question. At the same time some intense stuff is happening in the real world.
The story goes back and forth between the two worlds and it is very fast paced. Excellent and this is a book that will make you think, hard, about everything you've ever taken for granted about the Gospel.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:





Bill Myers is an author, screenwriter, and director whose work has won more than fifty national and international awards, including the C.S. Lewis Honor Award.

Visit the Book Specific Site.

Visit the author's website.


Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Howard Books; Original edition (September 28, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1439153264
ISBN-13: 978-1439153260

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:





Samuel Preston, a local reporter with bronzed skin and glow-in-the-dark teeth, turned to one of the guests of his TV show, God Talk. “So what’s your take on all of this, Dr. Mackenzie?”

The sixty-something professor stared silently at his wristwatch. He had unruly white hair and wore an outdated sports coat.

“Dr. Mackenzie?”

He glanced up, disoriented, then turned to the host who repeated the question. “What are your feelings about the book?”

Clearing his throat, Mackenzie raised the watch to his ear and gave it a shake. “I was wondering . . .” He dropped off, his bushy eyebrows gathered into a scowl as he listened for a sound.

The second guest, a middle-aged pastor with a shirt collar two sizes too small, smiled, “Yes?”

Mackenzie gave up on the watch and turned to him. “Do you make up this drivel as you go along? Or do you simply parrot others who have equally stunted intellects?”

The pastor, Dr. William Hathaway, blinked. Still smiling, he turned back to the host. “I was under the impression we were going to discuss my new book?”

“Oh, we are,” Preston assured him. “But it’s always good to have a skeptic or two in the midst, wouldn’t you agree?”

“Ah,” Hathaway nodded, “of course.” He turned back to Mackenzie, his smile never wavering. “I am afraid what you term as ‘drivel’ is based upon a faith stretching back thousands of years.”

Mackenzie removed one or two dog hairs from his slacks. “We have fossilized dinosaur feces older than that.”

“I’m sorry?”

“Just because something’s old, doesn’t stop it from being crap.”

Dr. Hathaway’s smile twitched. He turned in his chair so he could more fully address the man. “We’re talking about a time honored religion that millions of —”

“And that’s supposed to be a plus,” Mackenzie said, “that it’s religious? I thought you wanted to support your nonsense.”

“I see. Well it may interest you to know that—“

“Actually, it doesn’t interest me at all.” The old man turned to Preston. “How much longer will we be?”

The host chuckled. “Just a few more minutes, Professor.”

Working harder to maintain his smile, Hathaway replied, “So, if I understand correctly, you’re not a big fan of the benefits of Christianity?”

“Benefits?” Mackenzie pulled a used handkerchief from his pocket and began looking for an unsoiled portion. “Is that what the 30,000 Jews who were tortured and killed during the Inquisition called it? Benefits?”

“That’s not entirely fair.”

“And why is that?”

“For starters, most of them weren’t Jews.”

“I’m sure they’re already feeling better.”

“What I am saying is—”

“What you are saying, Mr . . . Mr—”

“Actually, it’s Doctor.”

“Actually, you’re a liar.”

“I beg your pardon?”

Finding an unused area of his handkerchief, Mackenzie took off his glasses and cleaned them.

The pastor continued. “It may interest you to know that—”

“We’ve already established my lack of interest.”

“It may interest you to know that I hold several honorary doctorates.”

“Honorary doctorates.”

“That’s correct.”

“Honorary, as in unearned, as in good for nothing . . . unless it’s to line the bottom of bird cages.” He held his glasses to the light, checking for any remaining smudges.

Hathaway took a breath and regrouped. “You can malign my character all you wish, but there is no refuting the benefits outlined in my new book.”

“Ah yes, the benefits.” Mackenzie lowered his glasses and worked on the other lens. “Like the million plus lives slaughtered during the Crusades?”

“That figure can be disputed.”

“Correct. It may be higher.”

Hathaway shifted in his seat. “The Crusades were a long time ago and in an entirely different culture.”

“So you’d prefer something closer to home? Perhaps the witch hunts of New England?”

“I’m not here to—”

“Fifteen thousand human beings murdered in Europe and America. Fifteen thousand.”

“Again, that’s history and not a part of today’s—”

“Then let us discuss more recent atrocities—towards the blacks, the gays, the Muslim population. Perhaps a dialogue on the bombing of abortion clinics?”

“Please, if you would allow me—”

Mackenzie turned to Preston. “Are we finished here?”

Fighting to be heard, Hathaway continued. “If people will read my book, they will clearly see—”

“Are we finished?”

“Yes, Professor,” Preston chuckled. “I believe we are.”

“But we’ve not discussed my Seven Steps to Successful—”

“Perhaps another time, Doctor.”

Mackenzie rose, shielding his eyes from the bright studio lights as Hathaway continued. “But there are many issues we need to—”

“I’m sure there are,” Preston agreed while keeping an eye on Mackenzie who stepped from the platform and headed off camera. “And I’m sure it’s all there in your book. Seven Steps to—”


***

Annie Brooks clicked off the remote to her television.

“Mom,” Rusty mumbled, “I was watching . . .” he drifted back to sleep without finishing the protest.

She looked down at the five year old and smiled. He lay in bed beside her, his hands still clutching Horton Hears a Who! Each night he’d been reading it to her, though she suspected it was more reciting from memory than reading. She tenderly kissed the top of his head before absent-mindedly looking back to the TV.

He’d done it again. Her colleague and friend—if Dr. Nicholas Mackenzie could be said to have any friends—had shredded another person of faith. This time a Christian, some mega-church pastor hawking his latest book. Next time it could just as easily be a Jew or Muslim or Buddhist. The point was that Nicholas hated religion. And Heaven help anybody who tried to defend it.

She sighed and looked back down to her son. He was breathing heavily, mouth slightly ajar. She brushed the bangs from his face and gave him another kiss. She’d carry him back to bed soon enough. But for now she would simply savor his presence. Nothing gave her more joy. And for that, with or without Nicholas’ approval, Annie Brooks was grateful to her God.


* * * * *


“Excuse me?” Nicholas called from the back seat of the Lincoln Town Car.

The driver didn’t hear.

He leaned forward and spoke louder. “You just passed the freeway entrance.”

The driver, some black kid with a shaved head, turned on the stereo. It was an urban chant, its beat so powerful Nicholas could feel it pounding in his gut. He unbuckled his seat belt and scooted to the open partition separating them. “Excuse me! You—”

The tinted window slid up, nearly hitting him in the face.

He pulled back in surprise, then banged on the glass. “Excuse me!” The music was fainter but still vibrated the car. “Excuse me!”

No response.

He slumped back into the seat. Stupid kid. And rude. He’d realize his mistake soon enough. And after Nicholas’ call to the TV station tomorrow, he’d be back on the streets looking for another job. Trying to ignore the music, Nicholas stared out the window, watching the Santa Barbara lights soften as fog rolled in. Over the years the station’s drivers had always been polite and courteous. Years, as in Nicholas was a frequent guest on God Talk. Despite his general distain for people, not to mention his reclusive lifestyle, he always accepted the producer’s invitation. Few things gave him more pleasure than exposing the toxic nature of religion. Besides, these outings provided a nice change of pace. Instead of the usual stripping away of naïve college students’ faith in his classroom, the TV guests occasionally provided a challenge.

Occasionally.

Other than his duties at the University of California Santa Barbara, these trips were his only exposure to the outside world. He had abandoned society long ago. Or rather, it had abandoned him. Not that there was any love lost. Today’s culture was an intellectual wasteland—a world of pre-chewed ideas, politically correct causes, sound bite news coverage, and novels that were nothing more than comic books. (He’d given up on movies and television long ago.) Why waste his time on such pabulum when he could surround himself with Sartre, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche—men whose work would provide more meaningful companionship in one evening than most people could in a lifetime.

Nevertheless, he did tolerate Ari, even fought to keep her during the divorce. She was his faithful companion for over fifteen years, though he should have put her down months ago. Deaf and blind, the golden retriever’s hips had begun to fail. But she wasn’t in pain. Not yet. And until that time, he didn’t mind cleaning up after her occasional accidents or calling in the vet for those expensive house calls. He owed her that. Partially because of her years of patient listening, and partially because of the memories.

The car turned right and entered a residential area. He glanced down to the glowing red buttons on the console beside him. One of them was an intercom to the driver. But, like Herbert Marcuse, the great Neo-Marxist of the 20th Century (and, less popularly, Theodore Kaczynski, the Unabomber of the 1980s) Nicholas mistrusted modern technology as much as he scorned the society that created it. How many times had Annie, a fellow professor, pleaded with him to buy a telephone . . .

“What if there’s an emergency?” she’d insisted. “What if someone needs to call you?”

“Like solicitors?”

“They have Do Not Call lists,” she said. “You can go online and be added to their—”

“Online?”

“Okay, you can write them a letter.”

“And give them what, more personal information?”

“They’d only ask for your phone number.”

“Not if I don’t have one.”

And so the argument continued off and on for years . . . as gift occasions came and went, as his closet gradually filled with an impressive collection of telephones. One thing you could say about Annie Brooks, she was persistent—which may be why he put up with her company, despite the fact she doted over him like he was some old man who couldn’t take care of himself. Besides, she had a good head on her shoulders, when she chose to use it, which meant she occasionally contributed something of worth to their conversations.

Then, of course, there was her boy.

The car slowed. Having no doubt learned the error of his ways, the driver was turning around. Not that it would help him keep his job. That die had already been cast. But the car wasn’t turning. Instead, it pulled to the curb and came to a stop. The locks shot up and the right rear door immediately opened. A man in his early forties appeared—strong jaw, short hair, with a dark suit, white shirt, and black tie.

“Good evening, Doctor.” He slid onto the leather seat beside him.

“Who are you?” Nicholas demanded.

The man closed the door and the car started forward. “I apologize for the cloak and dagger routine, but—”

“Who are you?”

He flipped open an ID badge. “Brad Thompson, HLS.”

“Who?”

“Homeland Security Agent Brad Thompson.” He returned the badge to his coat pocket.

“You’re with the government?”

“Yes sir, Homeland Security.”

“And you’ve chosen to interrupt my ride home because . . .”

“Again, I apologize, but it’s about your brother.”

Nicholas stared at him, giving him no satisfaction of recognition.

“Your brother,” the agent repeated, “Travis Mackenzie?”

Nicholas held his gaze another moment before looking out the window. “Is he in trouble again?”

“Has he contacted you?”

“My brother and I seldom communicate.”

“Yes, sir, about every eighteen months if our information is correct.”

The agent’s knowledge unsettled Nicholas. He turned back to the man. “May I see your identification again?”

“Pardon me?”

“Your identification. You barely allowed me to look at it.”

The agent reached back into his suit coat. “Please understand this is far more serious than his drug conviction, or his computer hacking, or the DUIs.”

Nicholas adjusted his glasses, waiting for the identification.

The agent flipped open his ID holder. “We at HLS are very concerned about his involvement—”

Suddenly, headlights appeared through the back window, their beams on high. The agent looked over his shoulder, then swore under his breath. He reached for the intercom, apparently to give orders to the driver, but the town car was already beginning to accelerate.

“What’s the problem?” Nicholas asked.

The car turned sharply to the left and continued picking up speed.

“I asked you what is happening,” Nicholas repeated.

“Your brother, Professor. Where is he?”

The headlights reappeared behind them, closing in.

“You did not allow me to examine your identification.”

“Please, Doctor—”

“If you do not allow me to examine your identification, I see little—”

“We’ve no time for that!”

The outburst stopped Nicholas as the car took another left, so sharply both men braced themselves against the seat.

The agent turned back to him. “Where is your brother?”

Once again the lights appeared behind them.

Refusing to be bullied, Nicholas repeated, “Unless I’m convinced of your identity, I have little—”

The agent sprang toward him. Grabbing Nicholas’ shirt, he yanked him to his face and shouted, “Where is he?!”

Surprised, but with more pride than common sense, Nicholas answered. “As I said—”

The agent’s fist was a blur as it struck Nicholas’ nose. Nicholas felt the cartilage snap, knew the pain would follow. As would the blood.

“WHERE IS HE?”

The car turned right, tires squealing, tossing the men to the other side. As Nicholas sat up, the agent pulled something from his jacket. There was the black glint of metal and suddenly a cold gun barrel was pressed against his neck. He felt fear rising and instinctively pushed back the emotion. It wasn’t the gun that concerned him, but the fear. That was his enemy. If he could focus, rely on his intellect, he’d have the upper hand. Logic trumped emotion every time. It was a truth that sustained him through childhood, kept him alive in Vietnam, and gave him the strength to survive in today’s world.

The barrel pressed harder.

When he knew he could trust his voice, he answered, “The last time I saw my brother was Thanksgiving.”

The car hit the brakes, skidding to a stop, sliding Nicholas off the seat and onto his knees. The agent caught himself, managing to stay seated. Up ahead, through the glass partition, Nicholas saw a second vehicle racing toward them—a van or truck, its beams also on high.

The agent pounded the partition. “Get us out of here.” he shouted at the driver. “Now!”

The town car lurched backward. It bounced up a curb and onto a front lawn. Tires spun, spitting grass and mud, until they dug in and the vehicle took off. It plowed through a hedge of junipers, branches scraping underneath, then across another lawn. Nicholas looked out his side window as they passed the first vehicle which had been behind them, a late model SUV. They veered back onto the road, snapping off a mailbox. Once again the driver slammed on the brakes, turning hard to the left, throwing the vehicle into a 180 until they were suddenly behind the SUV, facing the opposite direction. Tires screeched as they sped off.

The agent hit the intercom and yelled, “Dump the Professor and get us out of here!”

The car continued to accelerate and made another turn.

Pulling Nicholas into the seat and shoving the gun into his face, the agent shouted, “This is the last time I’m asking!”

Nicholas’ heart pounded, but he kept his voice even. “I have already told you.”

The man chambered a round. But it barely mattered. Nicholas had found his center and would not be moved. “I have not seen him in months.”

“Thanksgiving?”

“Yes.”

The car made another turn.

“And?”

Nicholas turned to face him. “We ate a frozen dinner and I sent him away.”

The agent searched his eyes. Nicholas held his gaze, unblinking. The car took one last turn, bouncing up onto an unlit driveway, then jerked to a stop. There was no sound, except the pounding music.

“Get out,” the agent ordered.

Nicholas looked through the window. “I have no idea where we—”

“Now.”

Nicholas reached for the handle, opened his door and stepped outside. The air was cold and damp.

“Shut the door.”

He obeyed.

The town car lunged backward, lights off. Once it reached the road it slid to a stop, changed gears and sped off. Nicholas watched as it disappeared into the fog, music still throbbing even after it was out of sight. Only then did he appreciate the pain in his nose and the warm copper taste of blood in his mouth. Still, with grim satisfaction, he realized, he had won. As always, logic and intellect had prevailed.


Monday, October 25, 2010

"Don't Look Back - Women of Justice #2" Book Review


DON'T LOOK BACK - WOMEN OF JUSTICE #2
BY
LYNETTE EASON

Twelve years ago, forensic anthropologist Jamie Cash survived a brutal kidnapping. After years of therapy, she's made a life for herself---and finally lets herself get close to FBI agent Dakota Richards. But when her attacker reappears, can she escape his grasp a second time? Will she ever feel safe enough to find true love?

MY REVIEW:
Lynette Eason has a gift for suspense/thrillers with depth. I liked the first book in this series with Samantha in the driver's seat and then to see that she was bringing Samantha's sister, Jamie, back to star in this book - I was excited. I wasn't disappointed either! Jamie makes a great leading lady with her past history coming back to haunt her, literally. The man who tried to kill her 12 years ago is back to finish off the job when he finds out that she is the one that got away. I figured out early on who the killer was (I was pretty sure anyway) but even that was okay because Lynette pulls off a twist at the end that left me very satisfied. I believe the leading lady for book #3 was also introduced so I'm happy to say that I don't think this is the end of the series and I anxiously await the next one!

Available October 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.
Special thanks to Revell and Donna Hausler for my review copy of this book.

Friday, October 22, 2010

"Two Tickets To The Christmas Ball" Book Review

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball

WaterBrook Press (October 5, 2010)

***Special thanks to Ashley Boyer and Staci Carmichael of Waterbrook Multnomah for sending me a review copy.***

MY REVIEW:
Donita Paul is a master of fantasy storytelling, the question is, "Can she write a contemporary novella without losing the charm of her fantasy stories?" The answer... of course she can, but luckily for her faithful readers there is still a little fantasy woven into it.

This Christmas Novella is full of charm as we find Cora and Simon - two people that have worked together for 5 years but never really noticed each other run into the same bookstore shopping for presents and both of them end up at home with a ticket to the Wizard's Christmas Ball. Oddly enough there is little information on this Ball and fate will have to intervene for both of them to go. Ah, but that is what fate is all about, and this fun tale follows Cora and Simon as fate (through the hands of the Warner, Werner and Wizzbotterdad Bookstore and the Costume shop) coerces them into making their appearance.

I found this book to be a charming and quick read that put me in the holiday spirit!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Expertly weaving together fantasy, romance and Biblical truths, Donita K. Paul penned the best-selling, fan-favorite DragonKeeper Chronicles series. After retiring early from teaching, she began a second career as an award-winning author and loves serving as a mentor for new writers of all ages. And when she’s not putting pen to paper, Donita makes her home in Colorado Springs and enjoys spending time with her grandsons, cooking, beading, stamping, and knitting.


Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press (October 5, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0307458997
ISBN-13: 978-0307458995

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:



Christmas. Cora had been trying to catch it for four years. She scurried down the sidewalk, thankful that streetlights and brightly lit storefronts counteracted the gloom of early nightfall. Somewhere, sometime, she’d get a hold of how to celebrate Christmas. Maybe even tonight.

With snowflakes sticking to her black coat, Christmas lights blinking around shop windows, and incessant bells jingling, Cora should have felt some holiday cheer.

And she did.

Really.

Just not much.

At least she was on a Christmas errand this very minute. One present for a member of the family. Shouldn’t that count for a bit of credit in the Christmas-spirit department?

Cora planned out her Christmas gift giving in a reasonable manner. The execution of her purchasing schedule gave her a great deal of satisfaction. Tonight’s quest was a book for Uncle Eric—something about knights and castles, sword fights, shining armor, and all that.

One or two gifts purchased each week from Labor Day until December 15, and her obligations were discharged efficiently, economically, and without the excruciating last-minute frenzy that descended upon other people…like her three sisters, her mother, her grandmother, her aunts.

Cora refused to behave like her female relatives and had decided not to emulate the male side of the family either. The men didn’t buy gifts. They sometimes exchanged bottles from the liquor store, but more often they drank the spirits themselves.

Her adult ambition had been to develop her own traditions for the season, ones that sprouted from the Christianity she’d discovered in college. The right way to celebrate the birth of Christ. She avoided the chaos that could choke Christmas. Oh dear. Judgmental again. At least now she recognized when she slipped.

She glanced around Sage Street. Not too many shoppers. The quaint old shops were decked out for the holidays, but not with LED bulbs and inflated cartoon figures.

Since discovering Christianity, she’d been confused about the trappings of Christmas—the gift giving, the nativity scenes, the carols, even the Christmas tree. Every year she tried to acquire some historical background on the festivities. She was learning. She had hope. But she hadn’t wrapped her head around all the traditions yet.

The worst part was shopping.

Frenzy undid her. Order sustained her. And that was a good reason to steer clear of any commercialized holiday rush. She’d rather screw red light bulbs into plastic reindeer faces than push through a crowd of shoppers.

Cora examined the paper in her hand and compared it to the address above the nearest shop. Number 483 on the paper and 527 on the building. Close.

When she’d found the bookstore online, she had been amazed that a row of old-fashioned retailers still existed a few blocks from the high-rise office building where she worked. Truthfully, it was more like the bookstore found her. Every time she opened her browser, and on every site she visited, the ad for the old-fashioned new- and used-book store showed up in a banner or sidebar. She’d asked around, but none of her co-workers patronized the Sage Street Shopping District.

“Sounds like a derelict area to me,” said Meg, the receptionist. “Sage Street is near the old railroad station, isn’t it? The one they decided was historic so they wouldn’t tear it down, even though it’s empty and an eyesore?”

An odd desire to explore something other than the mall near her apartment seized Cora. “I’m going to check it out.”

Jake, the security guard, frowned at her. “Take a cab. You don’t want to be out too late over there.”

Cora walked. The brisk air strengthened her lungs, right? The exercise pumped her blood, right? A cab would cost three, maybe four dollars, right?

An old man, sitting on the stoop of a door marked 503, nodded at her. She smiled, and he winked as he gave her a toothless grin. Startled, she quickened her pace and gladly joined the four other pedestrians waiting at the corner for the light to change.

Number 497 emblazoned the window of an ancient shoe store on the opposite corner. She marched on. In this block she’d find the book and check another item off her Christmas list.

Finally! “Warner, Werner, and Wizbotterdad, Books,” Cora read the sign aloud and then grasped the shiny knob. It didn’t turn. She frowned. Stuck? Locked? The lights were on. She pressed her face against the glass. A man sat at the counter. Reading. How appropriate.

Cora wrenched the knob. A gust of wind pushed with her against the door, and she blew into the room. She stumbled and straightened, and before she could grab the door and close it properly, it swung closed, without the loud bang she expected.

“I don’t like loud noises,” the man said without looking up from his book.

“Neither do I,” said Cora.

He nodded over his book. With one gnarled finger, he pushed his glasses back up his nose.

Must be an interesting book. Cora took a quick look around. The place could use stronger lights. She glanced back at the clerk. His bright lamp cast him and his book in a golden glow.

Should she peruse the stacks or ask?

She decided to browse. She started to enter the aisle between two towering bookcases.

“Not there,” said the old man.

“I beg your pardon?” said Cora.

“How-to books. How to fix a leaky faucet. How to build a bridge. How to mulch tomatoes. How to sing opera. How-to books. You don’t need to know any of that, do you?”

“No.”

“Wrong aisle, then.” He placed the heavy volume on the counter and leaned over it, apparently absorbed once more.

Cora took a step toward him. “I think I saw a movie like this once.”

His head jerked up, his scowl heavier. He glared over the top of his glasses at the books on the shelves as if they had suddenly moved or spoken or turned bright orange.

“A movie? Here? I suppose you mean the backdrop of a bookstore. Not so unusual.” He arched an eyebrow. “You’ve Got Mail and 84 Charing Cross Road.”

“I meant the dialogue. You spoke as if you knew what I needed.”

He hunched his shoulders. The dark suspenders stretched across the faded blue of his shirt. “Reading customers. Been in the business a long time.”

“I’m looking for a book for my uncle. He likes castles, knights, tales of adventure. That sort of thing.”

He sighed, closed his book, and tapped its cover. “This is it.” He stood as Cora came to the desk. “Do you want me to wrap it and send it? We have the service. My grandson’s idea.”

Cora schooled her face and her voice. One of the things she excelled in was not showing her exasperation. She’d been trained by a dysfunctional family, and that had its benefits. She knew how to take guff and not give it back. Maintaining a calm attitude was a good job skill.

She tried a friendly smile and addressed the salesclerk.

“I want to look at it first and find out how much it costs.”

“It’s the book you want, and the price is eleven dollars and thirteen cents.”

Cora rubbed her hand over the cover. It looked and felt like leather, old leather, but in good repair. The book must be ancient.

“Are you sure?” she asked.

“Which?” the old man barked.

“Which what?”

“Which part of the statement am I sure about? It doesn’t matter because I’m sure about both.”

Cora felt her armor of detachment suffer a dent. The man was impossible. She could probably order a book online and get it wrapped and delivered right to her uncle with less aggravation. But dollar signs blinked in neon red in her mind as she thought how much that would cost. No need to be hasty.

Curtain rings rattled on a rod, and Cora looked up to see a younger version of the curmudgeon step into the area behind the counter.

The younger man smiled. He had the same small, wiry build as the older version, but his smile was warm and genuine. He looked to be about fifty, but his hair was still black, as black as the old man’s hair was white. He stretched out his hand, and Cora shook it.

“I’m Bill Wizbotterdad. This is my granddad, William Wizbotterdad.”

“Let me guess. Your father is named Will?”

Bill grinned, obviously pleased she’d caught on quickly. “Willie Wizbotterdad. He’s off in Europe collecting rare books.”

“He’s not!” said the elder shop owner.

“He is.” Bill cast his granddad a worried look.

“That’s just the reason he gave for not being here.” William shook his head and leaned across the counter. “He doesn’t like Christmas. We have a special job to do at Christmas, and he doesn’t like people and dancing and matrimony.”

Bill put his arm around his grandfather and pulled him back. He let go of his granddad and spun the book on the scarred wooden counter so that Cora could read the contents. “Take a look.” He opened the cover and flipped through the pages. “Colored illustrations.”

A rattling of the door knob was followed by the sound of a shoulder thudding against the wood. Cora turned to see the door fly open with a tall man attached to it. The stranger brushed snow from his sleeves, then looked up at the two shop owners. Cora caught them giving each other a smug smile, a wink, and a nod of the head.

Odd. Lots of oddness in this shop.

She liked the book, and she wanted to leave before more snow accumulated on the streets. Yet something peculiar about this shop and the two men made her curious. Part of her longed to linger. However, smart girls trusted their instincts and didn’t hang around places that oozed mystery. She didn’t feel threatened, just intrigued. But getting to know the peculiar booksellers better was the last thing she wanted, right? She needed to get home and be done with this Christmas shopping business. “I’ll take the book.”

The newcomer stomped his feet on the mat by the door, then took off his hat.

Cora did a double take. “Mr. Derrick!”

He cocked his head and scrunched his face. “Do I know you?” The man was handsome, even wearing that comical lost expression. “Excuse me. Have we met?”

“We work in the same office.”

He studied her a moment, and a look of recognition lifted the frown. “Third desk on the right.” He hesitated, then snapped his fingers. “Cora Crowden.”

“Crowder.”

He jammed his hand in his pocket, moving his jacket aside. His tie hung loosely around his neck. She’d never seen him looking relaxed. The office clerks called him Serious Simon Derrick.

“I drew your name,” she said.

He looked puzzled.

“For the gift exchange. Tomorrow night. Office party.”

“Oh. Of course.” He nodded. “I drew Mrs. Hudson. She’s going to retire, and I heard her say she wanted to redecorate on a shoestring.”

“That’s Mrs. Wilson. Mrs. Hudson is taking leave to be with her daughter, who is giving birth to triplets.”

He frowned and began looking at the books.

“You won’t be there, will you?” Cora asked.

“At the party? No, I never come.”

“I know. I mean, I’ve worked at Sorenby’s for five years, and you’ve never been there.”

The puzzled expression returned to Serious Simon’s face. He glanced to the side. “I’m looking for the how-to section.”

Cora grinned. “On your left. Second aisle.”

He turned to stare at her, and she pointed to the shelves Mr. Wizbotterdad had not let her examine. Mr. Derrick took a step in that direction.

Cora looked back at the shop owners and caught them leaning back in identical postures, grins on their faces, and arms crossed over their chests.

Bill jerked away from the wall, grabbed her book, rummaged below the counter, and brought out a bag. He slid the book inside, then looked at her. “You didn’t want the book wrapped and delivered?”

“No, I’ll just pay for it now.”

“Are you sure you wouldn’t like to look around some more?” asked Bill.

“Right,” said William. “No hurry. Look around. Browse. You might find something you like.”

Bill elbowed William.

Simon Derrick had disappeared between the stacks.

William nodded toward the how-to books. “Get a book. We have a copy of How to Choose Gifts for Ungrateful Relatives. Third from the bottom shelf, second case from the wall.”

The statement earned him a “shh” from his grandson.

Cora shifted her attention to the man from her office and walked a few paces to peek around the shelves. “Mr. Derrick, I’m getting ready to leave. If you’re not coming to the party, may I just leave the gift on your desk tomorrow?”

He glanced at her before concentrating again on the many books. “That’s fine. Nice to see you, Miss Crowden.”

“Crowder,” she corrected, but he didn’t answer.

She went to the counter and paid. Mr. Derrick grunted when she said good-bye at the door.

“Come back again,” said Bill.

“Yes,” said William. “We have all your heart’s desires.”

Bill elbowed him, and Cora escaped into the blustering weather.

She hiked back to the office building. Snow sprayed her with tiny crystals, and the sharp wind nipped her nose. Inside the parking garage, warm air helped her thaw a bit as she walked to the spot she leased by the month. It would be a long ride home on slippery roads. But once she arrived, there would be no one there to interrupt her plans. She got in the car, turned the key, pushed the gearshift into reverse, looked over her shoulder, and backed out of her space.

She would get the gift ready to mail off and address a few cards in the quiet of her living room. There would be no yelling. That’s what she liked about living states away from her family. No one would ambush her with complaints and arguments when she walked through the door.

Except Skippy. Skippy waited. One fat, getting fatter, cat to talk to. She did complain at times about her mistress being gone too long, about her dinner being late, about things Cora could not fathom. But Cora never felt condemned by Skippy, just prodded a little.

_

Once inside her second-floor apartment, she pulled off her gloves, blew her nose, and went looking for Skippy.

The cat was not behind the curtain, sitting on the window seat, staring at falling snow. Not in her closet, curled up in a boot she’d knocked over. Not in the linen closet, sleeping on clean towels. She wasn’t in any of her favorite spots. Cora looked around and saw the paper bag that, this morning, had been filled with wadded scraps of Christmas paper. Balls of pretty paper and bits of ribbon littered the floor. There. Cora bent over and spied her calico cat in the bag.

“Did you have fun, Skippy?”

The cat rolled on her back and batted the top of the paper bag. Skippy then jumped from her cave and padded after Cora, as her owner headed for the bedroom.

Thirty minutes later, Cora sat at the dining room table in her cozy pink robe that enveloped her from neck to ankles. She stirred a bowl of soup and eyed the fifteen packages she’d wrapped earlier in the week. Two more sat waiting for their ribbons.

These would cost a lot less to send if some of these people were on speaking terms. She could box them together and ship them off in large boxes.

She spooned chicken and rice into her mouth and swallowed.

The soup was a tad too hot. She kept stirring.

She could send one package with seven gifts inside to Grandma Peterson, who could dispense them to her side of the family. She could send three to Aunt Carol.

She took another sip. Cooler.

Aunt Carol could keep her gift and give two to her kids. She could send five to her mom…

Cora grimaced. She had three much older sisters and one younger. “If Mom were on speaking terms with my sisters, that would help.”

She eyed Skippy, who had lifted a rear leg to clean between her back toes. “You don’t care, do you? Well, I’m trying to. And I think I’m doing a pretty good job with this Christmas thing.”

She reached over and flipped the switch on her radio. A Christmas carol poured out and jarred her nerves. She really should think about Christmas and not who received the presents. Better to think “my uncle” than “Joe, that bar bum and pool shark.”

She finished her dinner, watching her cat wash her front paws.

“You and I need to play. You’re”—she paused as Skippy turned

a meaningful glare at her—“getting a bit rotund, dear kitty.”

Skippy sneezed and commenced licking her chest.

After dinner, Cora curled up on the couch with her Warner, Werner, and Wizbotterdad bag. Skippy came to investigate the rattling paper.

Uncle Eric. Uncle Eric used to recite “You Are Old, Father William.” He said it was about a knight. But Cora wasn’t so sure. She dredged up memories from college English. The poem was by Lewis Carroll, who was really named Dodson, Dogson, Dodgson, or something.

“He wrote Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” she said. “There’s a cat in the story, but not as fine a cat as you. He smiles too much.”

Skippy gave her a squint-eyed look.

Cora eased the leather-bound book out of the bag. “The William I met at the bookstore qualifies for at least ancient.”

She put the book in her lap and ran her fingers over the embossed title: How the Knights Found Their Ladies.

She might have been hasty. She didn’t know if Uncle Eric would like this. She hefted the book, guessing its weight to be around four pounds. She should have found a lighter gift. This would cost a fortune to mail.

Skippy sniffed at the binding, feline curiosity piqued. Cora stroked her fur and pushed her back. She opened the book to have a peek inside. A piece of thick paper fell out. Skippy pounced on it as it twirled to the floor.

“What is it, kitty? A bookmark?” She slipped it out from between Skippy’s paws, then turned the rectangle over in her hands. Not a bookmark. A ticket.


Admit one to the Wizards’ Christmas Ball

Costumes required

Dinner and Dancing

and your Destiny


Never heard of it. She tucked the ticket in between the pages and continued to flip through the book, stopping to read an occasional paragraph.

This book wasn’t for Uncle Eric at all. It was not a history, it was a story. Kind of romantic too. Definitely not Uncle Eric’s preferred reading.

Skippy curled against her thigh and purred.

“You know what, cat? I’m going to keep it.”

Skippy made her approval known by stretching her neck up and rubbing her chin on the edge of the leather cover. Cora put the book on the sofa and picked up Skippy for a cuddle. The cat squirmed out of her arms, batted at the ticket sticking out of the pages, and scampered off.

“I love you too,” called Cora.

She pulled the ticket out and read it again: Wizards’ Christmas Ball. She turned out the light and headed for bed. But as she got ready, her eye caught the computer on her desk. Maybe she could find a bit more information.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

"While We're Far Apart" Book Review

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing

While We're Far Apart
Bethany House (October 1, 2010)
by
Lynn Austin


MY REVIEW:
I love Lynn Austin's writings, she knows how to bring historical fiction to life. I always love her characters and the time periods that are brought alive, but this one struck me as odd. The "main character" is Penny, but I don't like her. I thought, "Really? Why such an unlikeable character? I really want to like this book but not with this character!" I did stick with the book and it soon became evident that the real story was about Penny's transformation throughout the story. It turns out that Lynn has done it again and created a beautiful story of journey set in the later part of WWII and seen through the eyes of Esther and Peter (a brother and sister whose mom has died and whose dad enlists for the war), Penny (the family neighbor who volunteers to take care of Esther and Peter while their dad is gone) and Jacob Mendel (the children's Jewish landlord who lives in the first level of their house and whose wife died in the same accident as their mother). These 4 all undergo change as they endure the end of WWII. Excellent book!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

It was during the long Canadian winters at home with her children that Lynn made progress on her dream to write, carving out a few hours of writing time each day while her children napped. Lynn credits her early experience of learning to write amid the chaos of family life for her ability to be a productive writer while making sure her family remains her top priority.

Along with reading, two of Lynn's lifelong passions are history and archaeology. While researching her Biblical fiction series, Chronicles of the Kings, these two interests led her to pursue graduate studies in Biblical Backgrounds and Archaeology through Southwestern Theological Seminary. She and her son traveled to Israel during the summer of 1989 to take part in an archaeological dig at the ancient city of Timnah. This experience contributed to the inspiration for her novel Wings of Refuge.

Lynn resigned from teaching to write full-time in 1992. Since then she has published twelve novels. Five of her historical novels, Hidden Places, Candle in the Darkness, Fire by Night, A Proper Pursuit, and Until We Reach Home have won Christy Awards in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2008, and 2009 for excellence in Christian Fiction. Fire by Night was also one of only five inspirational fiction books chosen by Library Journal for their top picks of 2003, and All She Ever Wanted was chosen as one of the five inspirational top picks of 2005. Lynn's novel Hidden Places has been made into a movie for the Hallmark Channel, starring actress Shirley Jones. Ms Jones received a 2006 Emmy Award nomination for her portrayal of Aunt Batty in the film.

ABOUT THE BOOK

In an unassuming apartment building in Brooklyn, New York, three lives intersect as the reality of war invades each aspect of their lives. Young Esther is heartbroken when her father decides to enlist in the army shortly after the death of her mother.

Penny Goodrich has been in love with Eddie Shaffer for as long as she can remember; now that Eddie's wife is dead, Penny feels she has been given a second chance and offers to care for his children in the hope that he will finally notice her and marry her after the war.

And elderly Mr. Mendel, the landlord, waits for the war to end to hear what has happened to his son trapped in war-torn Hungary. But during the long, endless wait for victory overseas, life on the home front will go from bad to worse.

Yet these characters will find themselves growing and changing in ways they never expected--and ultimately discovering truths about God's love...even when He is silent.

If you would like to read the first chapter of While We're Far Apart, go HERE.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

"Lady in Waiting" Book Review

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


Lady In Waiting

WaterBrook Press; Original edition (September 7, 2010)

***Special thanks to Cindy Brovsky of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc., for sending me a review copy.***

MY REVIEW:
Susan Meissner is a master of contemporary AND historical fiction and the way she weaves them together is second to none. I mean really, she has a story going on in the present day and then a story going on over 400 years ago and she manages to dove tail them together flawlessly. Characters in both eras, settings as unique as the people in them and an amazing story of part fact and lots of fiction leads to a book that will stay on my keeper shelf - fantastic!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Susan Meissner has spent her lifetime as a writer, starting with her first poem at the age of four. She is the award-winning author of The Shape of Mercy, White Picket Fences, and many other novels. When she’s not writing, she directs the small groups and connection ministries at her San Diego church. She and her pastor husband are the parents of four young adults.


Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press; Original edition (September 7, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0307458830
ISBN-13: 978-0307458834

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Jane

Upper West Side, Manhattan

ONE

The mantle clock was exquisite even though its hands rested in silence at twenty minutes past two.

Carved—near as I could tell—from a single piece of mahogany, its glimmering patina looked warm to the touch. Rosebuds etched into the swirls of wood grain flanked the sides like two bronzed bridal bouquets. The clock’s top was rounded and smooth like the draped head of a Madonna. I ran my palm across the polished surface and it was like touching warm water.

Legend was this clock originally belonged to the young wife of a Southampton doctor and that it stopped keeping time in 1912, the very moment the Titanic sank and its owner became a widow. The grieving woman’s only consolation was the clock’s apparent prescience of her husband’s horrible fate and its kinship with the pain that left her inert in sorrow. She never remarried and she never had the clock fixed.

I bought it sight unseen for my great aunt’s antique store, like so many of the items I’d found for the display cases. In the year and half I’d been in charge of the inventory, the best pieces had come from the obscure estate sales that my British friend Emma Downing came upon while tooling around the southeast of England looking for oddities for her costume shop. She found the clock at an estate sale in Felixstowe and the auctioneer, so she told me, had been unimpressed with the clock’s sad history. Emma said he’d read the accompanying note about the clock as if reading the rules for rugby.

My mother watched now as I positioned the clock on the lacquered black mantle that rose above a marble fireplace. She held a lead crystal vase of silk daffodils in her hands.

“It should be ticking.” She frowned. “People will wonder why it’s not ticking.” She set the vase down on the hearth and stepped back. Her heels made a clicking sound on the parquet floor beneath our feet. “You know, you probably would’ve sold it by now if it was working. Did Wilson even look at it? You told me he could fix anything.”

I flicked a wisp of fuzz off the clock’s face. I hadn’t asked the shop’s resident and unofficial repairman to fix it. “It wouldn’t be the same clock if it was fixed.”

“It would be a clock that did what it was supposed to do.” My mother leaned in and straightened one of the daffodil blooms.

“This isn’t just any clock, Mom.” I took a step back too.

My mother folded her arms across the front of her Ann Taylor suit. Pale blue, the color of baby blankets and robins’ eggs. Her signature color. “Look, I get all that about the Titanic and the young widow, but you can’t prove any of it, Jane,” she said. “You could never sell it on that story.”

A flicker of sadness wobbled inside me at the thought of parting with the clock. This happens when you work in retail. Sometimes you have a hard time selling what you bought to sell.

“I’m thinking maybe I’ll keep it.”

“You don’t make a profit by hanging onto the inventory.” My mother whispered this, but I heard her. She intended for me to hear her. This was her way of saying what she wanted to about her aunt’s shop—which she’d inherit when Great Aunt Thea passed—without coming across as interfering.

My mother thinks she tries very hard not to interfere. But it is one of her talents. Interfering when she thinks she’s not. It drives my younger sister Leslie nuts.

“Do you want me to take it back to the store?” I asked.

“No! It’s perfect for this place. I just wish it were ticking.” She nearly pouted.

I reached for the box at my feet that I brought the clock in along with a set of Shakespeare’s works, a pair of pewter candlesticks, and a Wedgwood vase. “You could always get a CD of sound effects and run a loop of a ticking clock,” I joked.

She turned to me, childlike determination in her eyes. “I wonder how hard it would be to find a CD like that!”

“I was kidding, Mom! Look what you have to work with.” I pointed to the simulated stereo system she’d placed into a polished entertainment center behind us. My mother never used real electronics in the houses she staged, although with the clientele she usually worked with—affluent real estate brokers and equally well-off buyers and sellers—she certainly could.

“So I’ll bring in a portable player and hide it in the hearth pillows.” She shrugged and then turned to the adjoining dining room. A gleaming black dining table had been set with white bone china, pale yellow linen napkins, and mounds of fake chicken salad, mauvey rubber grapes, and plastic croissants and petit fours. An arrangement of pussy willows graced the center of the table. “Do you think the pussy willows are too rustic?” she asked.

She wanted me to say yes so I did.

“I think so, too,” she said. “I think we should swap these out for that vase of Gerbera daisies you have on that escritoire in the shop’s front window. I don’t know what I was thinking when I brought these.” She reached for the unlucky pussy willows. “We can put these on the entry table with our business cards.”

She turned to me. “You did bring yours this time, didn’t you? It’s silly for you to go to all this work and then not get any customers out of it.” My mother made her way to the entryway with the pussy willows in her hands and intention in her step. I followed her.

This was only the second house I’d helped her stage, and I didn’t bring business cards the first time because she hadn’t invited me to until we were about to leave. She’d promptly told me then to never go anywhere without business cards. Not even to the ladies room. She’d said it and then waited, like she expected me to take out my BlackBerry and make a note of it.

“I have them right here.” I reached into the front pocket of my capris and pulled out a handful of glossy business cards emblazoned with Amsterdam Avenue Antiques and its logo—three As entwined like a Celtic eternity knot. I handed them to her and she placed them in a silver dish next to her own. Sophia Keller Interior Design and Home Staging. The pussy willows actually looked wonderful against the tall jute-colored wall.

“There. That looks better!” she exclaimed as if reading my thoughts. She turned to survey the main floor of the townhouse. The owners had relocated to the Hamptons and were selling off their Manhattan properties to fund a cushy retirement. Half the décor—the books, the vases, the prints—were on loan from Aunt Thea’s shop. My mother, who’d been staging real estate for two years, brought me in a few months earlier when she discovered a stately home filled with charming and authentic antiques sold faster than the same home filled with reproductions.

“You and Brad should get out of that teensy apartment on the West Side and buy this place. The owners are practically giving it away.”

Her tone suggested she didn’t expect me to respond. I easily let the comment evaporate into the sunbeams caressing us. It was a comment for which I had had no response.

My mother’s gaze swept across the two large rooms she’d furnished and she frowned when her eyes reached the mantle and the silent clock.

“Well, I’ll just have to come back later today,” she spoke into the silence. “It’s being shown first thing in the morning.” She swung back around. “Come on. I’ll take you back.”

We stepped out into the April sunshine and to her Lexus parked across the street along a line of townhouses just like the one we’d left. As we began to drive away, the stillness in the car thickened, and I fished my cell phone out of my purse to see if I’d missed any calls while we were finishing the house. On the drive over I had a purposeful conversation with Emma about a box of old books she found at a jumble sale in Oxfordshire. That lengthy conversation filled the entire commute from the store on the seven-hundred block of Amsterdam to the townhouse on East Ninth, and I found myself wishing I could somehow repeat that providential circumstance. My mother would ask about Brad if the silence continued. There was no missed call, and I started to probe my brain for something to talk about. I suddenly remembered I hadn’t told my mother I’d found a new assistant. I opened my mouth to tell her about Stacy but I was too late.

“So what do you hear from Brad?” she asked cheerfully.

“He’s doing fine.” The answer flew out of my mouth as if I’d rehearsed it. She looked away from the traffic ahead, blinked at me, and then turned her attention back to the road. A taxi pulled in front of her, and she laid on the horn, pronouncing a curse on all taxi drivers.

“Idiot.” She turned to me. “How much longer do you think he will stay in New Hampshire?” Her brow was creased. “You aren’t going to try to keep two households going forever, are you?”

I exhaled heavily. “It’s a really good job, Mom. And he likes the change of pace and the new responsibilities. It’s only been two months.”

“Yes, but the inconvenience has to be wearing on you both. It must be quite a hassle maintaining two residences, not to mention the expense, and then all that time away from each other.” She paused but only for a moment. “I just don’t see why he couldn’t have found something similar right here in New York. I mean, don’t all big hospitals have the same jobs in radiology? That’s what your father told me. And he should know.”

“Just because there are similar jobs doesn’t mean there are similar vacancies, Mom.”

She tapped the steering wheel. “Yes, but your father said . . .”

“I know Dad thinks he might’ve been able to help Brad find something on Long Island but Brad wanted this job. And no offense, Mom, but the head of environmental services doesn’t hire radiologists.”

She bristled. I shouldn’t have said it. She would repeat that comment to my dad, not to hurt him but to vent her frustration at not having been able to convince me she was right and I was wrong. But it would hurt him anyway.

“I’m sorry, Mom,” I added. “Don’t tell him I said that, okay? I just really don’t want to rehash this again.”

But she wasn’t done. “Your father has been at that hospital for twenty-seven years. He knows a lot of people.” She emphasized the last four words with a pointed stare in my direction.

“I know he does. That’s really not what I meant. It’s just Brad has always wanted this kind of job. He’s working with cancer patients. This really matters to him.”

“But the job’s in New Hampshire!”

“Well, Connor is in New Hampshire!” It sounded irrelevant even to me to mention the current location of Brad’s and my college-age son. Connor had nothing to do with any of this. And he was an hour away from where Brad was anyway.

“And you are here,” my mother said evenly. “If Brad wanted out of the city, there are plenty of quieter hospitals right around here. And plenty of sick people for that matter.”

There was an undercurrent in her tone, subtle and yet obvious, that assured me we really weren’t talking about sick people and hospitals and the miles between Manhattan and Manchester. It was as if she’d guessed what I’d tried to keep from my parents the last eight weeks.

My husband didn’t want out of the city.

He just wanted out.

"Eat This and Live! For Kids" Book Review

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


Eat This and Live! For Kids

Siloam; 1 edition (September 7, 2010)

***Special thanks to Anna Coelho Silva | Publicity Coordinator, Book Group | Strang Communications for sending me a review copy.***

MY REVIEW:
This is a fantastic resource for the family. Obesity is becoming a huge problem in America today and it is really sad - what we do and don't eat is the major cause of that and it seems to be highly family related... parents definitely set the example. I was excited about this book because I was looking forward to going through it with them and hoping that it would really open their eyes to the importance of eating right. The book seems to be written more for parents than for kids though, which is fine, just not what I was expecting. I still plan on using the information in it, just maybe not in the way I was thinking I would.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Don Colbert, MD, is board-certified in family practice and anti-aging medicine and has received extensive training in nutritional and preventative medicine. He is the author of numerous books, including two New York Times best sellers, Dr. Colbert’s “I Can Do This” Diet and The Seven Pillars of Health.

Joseph A. Cannizzaro, MD, has practiced pediatric medicine for thirty years with specialties in developmental pediatrics, nutrition, and preventive medicine. He is the founder and managing pediatrician for the Pediatricians Care Unit in Longwood, Florida.

Visit the author's website.

Here's a video about the adult version, Eat This and Live!:



Product Details:

List Price: $17.99
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Siloam; 1 edition (September 7, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616381388
ISBN-13: 978-1616381387

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


EATING HABITS OF

THE NEXT GENERATION


Eating Habits and Our Future



How Has an entire generation of hefty eaters changed the face of the world? By starting young. And once again, this unflattering trend originated in America. In the United States, 17.1 percent of our children and adolescents―that's 2.5 million youth―are now reported to be either overweight or obese.


As a result of childhood obesity, we are seeing a dramatic rise in type 2 diabetes throughout the country. And because of the connection obesity has with hypertension, hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol), and heart disease, experts are predicting a dramatic rise in heart disease as our children become adults. The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) reports that overweight teens stand a 70 percent chance of becoming overweight adults, and that is increased to 80 percent

if at least one parent is overweight or obese. Because of that, heart disease and type 2 diabetes are expected to begin at a much earlier age in those who fail to beat the odds.2 Overall, this is the first generation of children that is not expected to live as long as their parents, and they will be more likely to suffer from disease and illness.


If you do not take charge of your food choices for yourself, at least do it for your children. Children follow by example, by mirroring the behavior of their parents. Don't tell them to make healthy eating choices without doing it yourself. I'm sure most of you love your children and are good parents. But ask yourself: Do you love your children enough to make the necessary lifestyle changes? Do you love them enough to educate them on what foods to eat and what foods to avoid? Do you love them enough to keep junk food out of your house and instead make healthy food more available? Do you love them enough to exercise regularly and lead by example?


If you answered yes to those questions, it is important that you not only take action right now but also that you make changes for them that last a lifetime.


But let me be honest; this is not an easy fight when it involves your children's lives. As the little boxes of information on this page illustrate, the culture in which your children are growing up is saturated with junk food that is void of nutrition but high in toxic fats, sugars, highly processed carbohydrates, and food additives. Consuming these foods has become part of childhood.


You can do it, but you must be prepared to stand strong! That's why I am ecstatic that you have picked up this book. I believe you now hold a key to truly changing your life and your children's lives.




Stand Strong!

If you're planning on taking a stand against this garbage-in, garbage-out culture, expect some opposition from every front. During the course of a year, the typical American child will watch more than thirty thousand television commercials, with many of these advertisements pitching fast-food or junk food as delicious “must-eats.” For years, fast food franchises have enticed children into their restaurants with kids' meal toys, promotional giveaways, and elaborate playgrounds. It has obviously worked for McDonald's: about 90 percent of American children between the ages of three and nine set foot in one each month.


It's All Part of the Plan

Fast-food establishments spend billions of dollars on research and marketing. They know exactly what they are doing and how to push your child's hot button. They understand the powerful impact certain foods can have. That is why comfort foods often do more than just fill the stomach; they bring about memories of the fair, playgrounds, toys, backyard birthday bashes, Fourth of July When your kids can't visit the Golden parties, childhood friends . . . the list goes on. Advertisers have keyed into this and products―most of which are brought learned to use the sight of food to stimulate the same fond childhood memories.


School Cafeteria or Fast Food Franchise?

When your kids can't visit the Golden Arches, it comes to them. Fast-food products―most of which are brought in by franchises―are sold in about 30 percent of public high school cafeterias and many elementary cafeterias.



An Alarming Trend in Children's Health



By teaching your children healthy eating habits, you can keep them at a healthy weight. Also, the eating habits your children pick up when they are young will help them maintain a healthy lifestyle when they are adults. The challenges we face are imposing. The state of children's health today is, according to recent measures, at its most dire. The rise in rates of complex, chronic childhood disorders has been well profiled. Here are some concrete examples of the current state of children's health:


Cancer remains the leading cause of death by disease in children.5

Obesity is epidemic.

Fifty percent of children are overweight.6

Diabetes now affects 1 in every 500 children. Of those children newly diagnosed with diabetes, the percentage with type 2 (“adult-onset”) has risen from less than 5 percent to nearly 50 percent in a ten-year period.

Asthma is the most prevalent chronic disease affecting American children, leading to 15 million missed days of school per year. Since 1980, the percentage of children with asthma has almost tripled.

Approximately 1 in 25 American children now suffer from food allergies.

From 1997 to 2007, the prevalence of reported food allergy increased 18 percent among children under the age of eighteen years.

One in 6 children is diagnosed with a significant neurodevelopmental disability, including 1 in 12 with ADHD. Autism affects 1 in 150 U.S. children, an extraordinary rise in prevalence.

Babies in one study were noted, at birth, to have an average of 200 industrial chemicals and pollutants present in their umbilical cord blood.


These statistics are sobering indeed, and perhaps the most sobering is the rise in childhood obesity. Why? Obesity plays a part in several other chronic illnesses that are also on the rise among children. And there's an unwelcome side effect―more kids are being put on prescription medications for obesity-related chronic diseases. Across the board, we are witnessing increases in prescriptions for children with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, depression, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and asthma. There must be a better way.


Top Three Tips for Parents


1. Lead by example. Your child will have an extremely difficult time making healthy eating choices and exercising

regularly if you don't consistently show him or her how.

2. Take baby steps that lead to lasting changes. If your child is overweight, avoid diets that promise instant

3. Take your time as you replace your child's old habits with healthy ones. This goes hand in hand with tip #2.


You're in this for the long haul. It takes time to adapt to a new lifestyle. Be patient as he or she adjusts to the new eating habits and activities that you will be introducing.


What we need now is an absolute paradigm shift. No longer are the “one drug, one disease” solutions of the past appropriate. These are times that demand out-of-the-box thinking. That's where this book can help. If your child is overweight or you want to lower his or her risk of becoming overweight down the road, there are many positive, natural ways you can address the situation. In this book, Dr. Cannizzaro and I provide you with information and ideas to help you help your child.



Understanding Childhood Obesity


Now that we've shared the bad news about the childhood obesity epidemic in the United States, let's make sure you really understand the terms overweight and obese. Many people have a general sense as to how these words are different, yet in recent years the delineation has become clearer. Various health organizations, including the CDC and the National Institutes

of Health (NIH), now officially define these terms using the body mass index (BMI), which factors in a person's weight relative to height. Most of these organizations define an overweight adult (twenty years of age and older) as having a BMI between 25 and 29.9, while an obese adult is anyone who has a BMI of 30 or higher.12 For children and teens, BMI is measured differently, allowing for the normal variations in body composition between boys and girls and at various ages.

For ages two to nineteen, the BMI (or BMI-for-age) is pinpointed on a growth chart to determine the corresponding age- and sex-specific percentile.


· Overweight is defined as a BMI at or above the 85th percentile and lower than the 95th percentile.

· Obesity is defined as a BMI at or above the 95th percentile for children of the same age and sex.


BMI is the most widely accepted method used to determine body fat in children and adults because it's easy to measure a person's height and weight. However, while BMI is an acceptable screening tool for initial assessment of body composition, please remember that it is not a direct measure of body fatness. There are other factors that can affect body composition, and your child's doctor can discuss these with you.

If you think your child may be overweight, start by talking to his or her pediatrician. (See the box on the next page for some suggested questions to ask your child's doctor.) After determining your child's BMI and targeting a healthy weight range for your child, make a plan together as a family. It's a good idea to include any regular caregivers in this plan as well. Set a goal for the whole family to get lots of exercise and eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. Keep reading for more ways to help your

family!


Wondering About Your Child's Weight?


Five Questions to Ask Your Pediatrician


I understand that you probably don't want to talk about the possibility that your child may not be at a healthy weight. To help make this as painless as possible, I recommend asking your doctor the following questions to get the conversation started.


1. What is a healthy weight for my child's height?

Your doctor will use a growth chart to show you how your child is growing and give you a healthy weight range for your child. The doctor may also tell you your child's body mass index (BMI). The BMI uses a person's height and weight to determine the amount of body fat.

2. Is my child's weight putting him or her at risk for any illnesses?

Based on your family history and other factors, your doctor can help you to determine what health risks your child may be facing. Overweight, inactive children with a family history of type 2 diabetes have an increased risk of being diagnosed with the disease. High blood pressure can also occur in overweight children.

3. How much exercise does my child need?

The National Association for Sport and Physical Education recommends at least one hour of exercise a day. Your doctor will be able to suggest specific ways to help your child, such as walking the dog, playing catch instead of video games, and other forms of activity.

4. Does my child need to go on a diet?

Although an overweight child's eating habits will probably need to change, I don't advise using the word diet because it focuses on short-term eating habits that are rarely sustainable for long-term health. Children (and adults) who become chronic dieters are setting themselves up for problems with their metabolism later in life. A healthier approach is to put your whole family on the path to a healthy lifestyle with gradual but permanent changes. The recommendations in this book are a great place to start.

5. How do I talk about weight without hurting my child's feelings?

Your child might be sensitive about his or her weight, especially if he or she is getting teased. Above all, the message must never be, “You're fat,” or “You need to lose weight.” Instead, it should be, “Our family needs to make better choices about eating and being more active so that we all can be healthy.”


Why Food Choices Matter


All men are created equal, but all foods are not! In fact, some food should not be labeled “food” but rather “consumable product” or “edible, but void of nourishment.” Living foods―fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds, and nuts―exist in a raw or close-to-raw state and are beautifully packaged in divinely created wrappers called skins and peels. Living foods look robust, healthy, and alive. They have not been bleached, refined or chemically enhanced and preserved. Living foods are plucked, harvested squeezed―not processed, packaged, and put on a shelf.

Dead foods are the opposite. They have been altered in every imaginable way to make them last as long as possible and be as addictive as possible. That usually means the manufacturer adds considerable amounts of sugar and man-made fats that involve taking various oils and heating them to high temperatures so that the nutrients die and become reborn as a deadly, sludgy substance that is toxic to our bodies.

Life breeds life. Death breeds death. When your child eats living foods the enzymes in their pristine state interact with his or her digestive enzymes. The other natural ingredients God put in them―vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, antioxidants and more―flow into your child's system in their natural state. These living foods were created to cause your child's digestive system, bloodstream, and organs to function at optimum capacity.

Dead food hit your child's body like a foreign intruder. Chemicals, including preservatives, food additives, and bleach agents place a strain on the liver. Toxic man-made fats begin to form in your child's cell-membranes; they become stored as fat in your child's body and form plaque in his or her arteries. Your child's body does its best to harvest the tiny traces of good from these deadly foods, but in the end he or she is undernourished and overweight.

If you want your child to be a healthy, energetic person rather than someone bouncing between all-you-can-eat buffets and fast-food restaurants, take his or her eating habits seriously. Now is the time to help your son or daughter make the change to living foods.


Isn't it Really Just Genetics?

For every obese person, there is a story behind the excessive weight gain. Growing up, I would often hear it said of an obese person that she was just born fat, or he takes after his daddy. There s some truth in both of those. Genetics count when it comes to obesity. In 1988, the New England Journal of Medicine published a Danish study that observed five hundred forty

people who had been adopted during infancy. The research found that adopted individuals had a much greater tendency to end up in the weight class of their biological parents rather than their adopted parents. Separate studies have proven that twins who were raised apart also reveal that genes have a strong influence on gaining weight or becoming overweight. There is a significant genetic predisposition to gaining weight. Still, that does not fully explain the epidemic of obesity seen in the United States over the past thirty years. Although an individual may have a genetic predisposition to become obese, environment plays a major role as well. I like the way author, speaker, and noted women s physician Pamela Peeke said it: Genetics may load the gun, but environment pulls the trigger. Many patients I see come into my office thinking they have inherited their fat genes, and therefore there is nothing they can do about it. After investigating a little, I usually find that they simply inherited their parents propensity for bad choices of foods, large portion sizes, and poor eating habits. If your child is over weight, he or she may have an increased number of fat cells, which means your child will have a tendency to gain weight if you choose to provide the wrong types of foods, large portion sizes, and allow him or her to be inactive. But you should also realize that most people can over ride their genetic makeup for obesity by making the correct dietary and

lifestyle choices. Unfortunately, many parents forget that to make these healthy choices, it helps to surround a child with a

healthy environment.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

"Embers of Love" by Tracie Peterson

This week, the


Christian Fiction Blog Alliance


is introducing


Embers of Love
Bethany House (October 1, 2010)


by
Tracie Peterson


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Tracie Peterson is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than 85 novels.

She received her first book contract in November, 1992 and saw A Place To Belong published in February 1993 with Barbour Publishings' Heartsong Presents. She wrote exclusively with Heartsong for the next two years, receiving their readership's vote for Favorite Author of the Year for three years in a row.

In December, 1995 she signed a contract with Bethany House Publishers to co-write a series with author Judith Pella. Tracie now writes exclusively for Bethany House Publishers.

She teaches writing workshops at a variety of conferences on subjects such as inspirational romance and historical research.

Tracie was awarded the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award for 2007 Inspirational Fiction and her books have won numerous awards for favorite books in a variety of contests.

Making her home in Montana, this Kansas native enjoys spending time with family--especially her three grandchildren--Rainy, Fox and Max. She's active in her church as the Director of Women's Ministries, coordinates a yearly writer's retreat for published authors, and travels, as time permits, to research her books

ABOUT THE BOOK

The logging industry in eastern Texas is booming, and Deborah Vandermark plans to assist her family's business now that she's completed college. Unexpectedly, her best friend, Lizzie Decker, accompanies her back home--fleeing a wedding and groom she has no interest in.

Deborah, the determined matchmaker, puts her sights on uniting her brother and dear friend in a true love match. Deborah soon meets Dr. Christopher Clayton, a much-needed addition to the town. As their lives intersect, Deborah realizes that she has a much greater interest in medicine and science than the bookkeeping she was trained in.

But when typhoid begins to spread and Lizzie's jilted fiance returns, Deborah wonders if true love can overcome such obstacles...for those dearest to her, and for herself.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Embers of Love, go HERE.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

"Within My Heart" Book Review

This week, the


Christian Fiction Blog Alliance


is introducing


Within My Heart
Bethany House; Original edition (September 1, 2010)


by
Tamera Alexander


MY REVIEW:
I read "From A Distance" (1st book in this series) quite awhile ago and really liked it - I found it to be a pretty original historical fiction and I appreciate originality in a basically formulaic genre. I somehow or another missed #2 but was excited to read this one. Tamera doesn't disappoint. This book stands alone just fine, but the characters from #2 and #3 are right in the midst of everything so having read them will be beneficial but not necessary.
In this particular book we follow widow Rachel and her 2 boys Mitch and Kurt as they are trying to make it on the ranch when everything seems to be working against them. In the meantime Dr. Rand has been in town as the only Dr. for a 57 mile radius and now someone that the whole town loves has fallen ill and Dr. Rand needs Rachel's help to perform a new surgery on him to give him a little more time.

I felt like I was on an emotional journey with the characters and I loved every minute of it. Tamera is masterful in her rendering of characters with depth, settings in detail and story lines that keep you hanging on. This series is absolutely wonderful and I look forward to more from Tamera!



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Tamera Alexander is the best-selling author of Rekindled, Revealed and Remembered, the critically acclaimed Fountain Creek Chronicles historical series with Bethany House Publishers. Her second historical series, Timber Ridge Reflections (From a Distance, Beyond This Moment, and Within My Heart), penned in her style with deeply drawn characters, thought-provoking plots, and poignant prose have earned her devoted readers—and multiple industry awards.

These awards include the 2009 and 2008 Christy Award, the 2007 RITA for Best Inspirational Romance, the 2009 and 2007 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, 2007 Bookseller’s Best Award, and Library Journal’s Top Christian Fiction for 2006, among others.

After living in Colorado for seventeen years, Tamera has returned to her Southern roots. She and her husband now make their home in Nashville with Tamera's father, Doug. They enjoy life there with Joe and Tamera's two adult children, and Jack, a precious—and precocious—silky terrier.

ABOUT THE BOOK
Determined to fulfill her late husband’s dream, Rachel Boyd struggles to keep her ranch afloat with the help of her two young sons. But some days it feels as though her every effort is sabotaged. When faced with a loss she cannot afford, she’s forced to trust Rand Brookston, the one man in Timber Ridge she wishes to avoid. And with good reason. He’s a physician, just like her father, which tells her everything she needs to know about him. Or so she thinks . . .

Dr. Rand Brookston ventured west with the dream of bringing modern medicine to the wilds of the Colorado Rockies, but the townspeople have been slow to trust him. Just as slow in coming is Rand’s dream to build the town a proper clinic. When a patient’s life is threatened, Rand makes a choice—one that sends ripples through the town of Timber Ridge. And through Rachel Boyd’s stubborn heart.

From the beloved, bestselling author of From a Distance and Beyond This Moment comes an unforgettable story about faith in the face of fear, about tarnished hopes and second chances, and ultimately about the resilient courage and tenacity of hearts broken––and mended––by love.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Within My Heart, go HERE.